Conceptual Framework on Command and Control

Command and Control (C2) is the core business of NATO C2COE, it forms the essence of Centre’s daily work. However, the actual concept behind the term, “Command and Control” or “C2” remains somehow confusing and vague, especially among the international community. Today we are experiencing a variety of theories/approaches which are complemented by the absence of a commonly accepted definition for C2 within NATO.

Pigeau and McCann, have found that if an infinite number of different ways of spanning spaces exists, the use of a structure immediately reduces the space for describing the problem to a smaller, more manageable size [1]. Alberts and Hayes have found that our current state of understanding can be presented in conceptual models [2]. Accordingly, they describe a conceptual model as a structured way to represent a theory that consists of a set of facts or assumptions (variables) and the relationships among them.

As stated before, the concept of C2 has despite past efforts remained somehow confusing and vague. Building a conceptual model in order to structure our current knowledge, therefore, reducing the space of C2 to a smaller, more manageable size, allows the NATO C2COE to better deal with the concept, and consequently provide a greater focus in our support to NATO. A more in-depth study into C2 has been ongoing since 2015. The draft version of the C2 Framework identifies prevailing and most essential components and contains a model which can be used in C2 assessments. This version was used to discuss the work on ACT’s C2 Focus Area. The strong intent is to finalize and based on discussions refine the NATO C2COE Conceptual Framework.

For more information on the NATO C2COE activities related to this project, please contact our project officer: Lt Col Frank Gubbels (NLD N MC), send email to or call 0031 (0)30 218 7013.


[1] Pigeau, R. & McCann, C. 2002. Re-conceptualizing Command and Control. Canadian Military Journal: Spring 2002; page 54.
[2] Alberts, D., S. & Hayes, R., E. 2006. Understanding command and control. Washington, DC: CCRP Publication Series; pages 16, 17.